Bless This House was released in 1956 and features Mahalia Jackson and the Falls-Jones Ensemble. This LP is a favorite of the gospel purists who feel alienated by Jackson's collaborations with pop artists like Percy Faith and Harpo Marx. The songs on Bless This House feature great supporting performances by pianist Mildred Falls and organist Ralph Jones. Highlights include a jazzy, swinging "Let the Church Roll On," a dark, bluesy "Trouble With the Word," and energetic versions of "Down By the Riverside" and "It Don't Cost Very Much." Bless This House includes some of Jackson's most serious offerings and reflects the influence of blues singers Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey on her vocal style. A great introduction to Jackson's joyous, religious music and a good beginning for new listeners.
Tommy Smith, the great Scottish saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator, studied classical orchestration in the 1990s, and has played in plenty of challenging jazz/classical settings. But Modern Jacobite is his most ambitious journey yet, centred on an intricately woven three-movement symphonic work inspired by the Jacobite uprisings; it is bookended by a rapturous tenor-sax improvisation on Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, and by Chick Corea’s famous Children’s Songs interleaved with Smith’s own Bairn’s Songs as personal variations on the same theme. The Jacobite pieces embrace violent, cinematic soundscapes for slewing brass and thundering percussion; deep cello themes that segue into pulsating tenor-sax ruminations; Scottish folk dances that become pipe-toned tenor jigs.